Archaeologists in Europe have discovered remnants of mysterious underground structures created by Neanderthals around 176,000 years ago!
Working deep inside France's Bruniquel Cave, researchers found six rings composed of stalagmite pieces that early humans had apparently gathered and arranged to form the circles.
The structures provide little indication as to what their purpose was, but there is evidence of fire being used inside the perplexing sites.
What makes the find particularly remarkable is that the structures pre-date the presumptive arrival of humans in Europe by an astounding 140,000 years.
They also represent the most ancient explorations of caves ever seen by early humans as well as some of the oldest structures ever found.
"It is, in all aspects, a truly extraordinary discovery," archaeologist Emmanuel Discamps told the LA Times.
Experts say that the arrangement of the rocks as well as the fire evidence precludes the possibility that the structures were made by animals rather than Neanderthals.
Now they hope to decipher what, exactly, the structures may have been used for, although their incredible age likely leaves researchers to merely speculate on their purpose.
The discovery does lend a bit of credence to the longstanding myths and legends surrounding underground civilizations.
Perhaps, rather than venture back to the surface, these ancient Neanderthals kept going deeper and they're still down below the Earth today.
Source: LA Times